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First aid for frostbite

Among domestic and industrial injuries, injuries resulting from exposure to freezing temperatures occupy a special place.

Frostbite is also possible at positive (from 0 to + 5 °) air temperature, if there is a strong wind and humidity is increased.

It is customary to distinguish between general cooling when a decrease in the temperature of the whole body occurs. and local frostbite of the hands, feet, ears, nose, cheeks, knee joints.

When intoxicated, the body’s susceptibility to cold rises, and as a person loses control over his actions. the risk of frostbite also increases. They are also possible when a person has been in the cold for a long time in tight shoes. People suffering from vascular diseases (regional iterative endarteritis and atherosclerosis), in which peripheral circulation is impaired, are more prone to frostbite.

The peculiarity of cold injury is that the processes occurring in the tissues under the influence of low temperatures, with timely and correctly rendered first aid, can undergo reverse development.

It is better if the first aid to the victims is provided in a medical institution, However, much more often this has to be done in the order of self-help and mutual assistance, and, unfortunately, not always right. And as a result, there are many complications, sometimes severe.

For a long time it was believed that, providing assistance with frostbite, it was imperative to rub the frostbitten parts of the body with snow and as soon as possible to deliver a person to a warm room.

Such actions are unacceptable! Firstly. because rubbing the skin with snow aggravates frostbite and injures it with ice crystals, and this threatens the infected person with frostbitten areas and suppuration. Secondly, rapid warming in a warm room can lead to tissue necrosis.

Currently, the tactics of first aid has changed due to the fact that new data on the mechanisms of tissue damage during hypothermia have been obtained.

It has been established that the main violations during frostbite occur in the microvascular bed of the affected tissues: their blood supply decreases, because of which they receive insufficient oxygen. However, at low temperatures this does not entail severe organic disorders. In the process of rapid warming, the tissues warm unevenly: first, the surface layers are heated, and metabolic processes are restored in them. The deeper layers warm up more slowly, which prevents the restoration of normal blood flow, and hence the nutrition of surface tissues, as a result of which they die.


Before entering the victim in a warm room, it is necessary to apply heat-insulating dressings made of gauze or a wide bandage with a layer of cotton on frost-bitten areas (only on the area with pronounced pallor of the skin). You can also use scarves, scarves, warm cotton or fur gloves, any warm clothes. Thus, frostbitten tissues are isolated from the surrounding air. and warming is slow, due to heat production by the body. It is very good to give the victim drink hot tea.

IN NO EVENT, IT IS POSSIBLE TO HEAT THE FROZEN SITES USING HOT HOT TUBS OR DRY HEAT. This dramatically enhances metabolic processes, which leads to the development of tissue necrosis (necrosis), since blood circulation in them has not yet been restored.

If help is provided correctly and on time, then in most cases it is possible to completely restore blood circulation in the frostbitten tissues. With prolonged exposure to cold. and also if the victim has a disease of the vessels of the legs after first aid, he should be taken to a medical facility as soon as possible.

Necrotic changes in tissues during frostbite often do not develop immediately, but after 3 – 5 days after hypothermia. Edema gradually increases against the background of severe blueness of the skin, bubbles appear. This indicates a deep tissue damage and is fraught with serious consequences. Therefore, in any case, after first aid, the victim must visit a doctor.

In case of mild frostbite, it is recommended to gently rub the whitened areas with a soft woolen cloth (mittens, scarf). To prevent frostbite on the face, it is recommended to lubricate the skin with any animal fat before going out into the cold.

When you have to work outdoors in winter, you must first strictly comply with safety regulations. It is necessary to dress warmly using the entire set of workwear. During breaks, try to warm yourself by going into the room.

Especially prone to frostbite are people who in the past have suffered a cold injury. They need to be very careful.

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